What connects Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet?

Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet have been the rivals for 20 years

by Jovica Ilic
What connects Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet?

Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet were the most prominent players born in 1986, battling since their junior days. Rafa and Richard turned pro at young age and showed their class and quality against the more experienced rivals on the Challenger and Futures circuits.

Richard found himself in the top-200 at 16, needing more time to make the next step and crack the top-100. On the other hand, Nadal was on a steady course toward the top-50, settling there in 2003 and 2004 and carving his path toward the top in 2005.

Rafa hit the top-100 in April 2003, staying there ever since and celebrating his 1000th consecutive week in that group last month! Gasquet had a chance to follow the Spaniard's pace after entering the top-100 in September 2003 at 17!

However, the Frenchman struggled with injuries in the next couple of seasons, needing more time and establishing himself as a top-100 player in the spring of 2005. This week is special for the French veteran, becoming the second active player with 900 consecutive top-100 weeks after Nadal!

The 36-year-old Gasquet has been ranked outside the top-50 since April last year, unable to deliver his best tennis and consistent results. Also, he endured a couple of challenging weeks in his pursuit to remain in the top-100 and extend his impressive streak.

Richard passed them and wrapped up the season behind us in the top-70 after a 26-19 score on the Tour. The veteran kicked off the season at the Australian Open and lost in the second round.

Richard Gasquet is the second active player with 900 consecutive top-100 weeks.

He was the quarter-finalist in Montpellier, Marrakech and Estoril before the semi-final run in Geneva.

The Frenchman reached the third round at Wimbledon and scored three victories in Winston-Salem ahead of the US Open. Gasquet met his old rival Nadal in the third round in New York, never beating the Spaniard before. Rafa kept his run against Richard alive following a 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 victory in two hours and 17 minutes.

Rafa beat Richard for the 18th time in as many encounters, winning the previous 34 sets against his coeval! Gasquet fought well in the third set, but it was not enough to keep him in contention after experiencing a late break that pushed Nadal through.

That result was enough for Richard to stay in the top-100. Gasquet embraced a busy indoor swing in the season's closing stages to secure a year-end top-70 spot. Richard's second ATP semi-final came in Antwerp, playing well and beating Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Stricker and David Goffin.

He fell to Felix Auger-Aliassime in two tie breaks and missed a chance to advance into his first ATP final since Umag last year. Gasquet wrapped up the season at the home Masters 1000 event in Paris, beating Alex Molcan and losing to world no.

4 Casper Ruud. Richard will start the 2023 season in Adelaide before kicking off his 16th Australian Open, hoping for another solid run and another top-100 year.

Rafael Nadal Richard Gasquet